Nontraditional Students Increasing

June 15, 2010

older graduateNontraditional college students-- those who are at least 25 years old and have jobs, children and other responsibilities--have increased in the past few years.

The Shreveport Times in Louisiana reports that the number of nontraditional students at Bossier Parish Community College, Louisiana State University-Shreveport and Southern University at Shreveport topped 5,000 this year, compared to 4,377 last year. Moreover, at least 36 percent of the students at each of the colleges were over age 25.

According to Orella Brazile, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at SUSLA, nontraditional students are a boon to colleges. "Once they get into a program, they tend to finish," she told the Shreveport Times. "They are more focused and finished until the end."

Bruce Chaloux, director for the Adult Learning Campaign for the Southern Regional Education Board, explained to the Shreveport Times that colleges can do more to attract nontraditional students, including creating online or blended classes and accelerating courses.

At Arkansas State University Mountain Home, the typical student is 28 years old. But nontraditional students often need guidance about financial aid availability and entrance exams.

"I didn't learn until after I got my associate's degree that I could have gotten $2,000 in financial aid per semester," noted Jamie Johnston during a meeting of prospective college students over age 25, which was covered in the Baxter Bulletin. "I didn't think I qualified for financial aid because I was a nontraditional student."

In a related story, the Times Herald in Port Huron, Michigan, reports that more nontraditional students are taking unpaid internships: According to Vault Inc., which provides career services, 5 percent of internships were filled by nontraditional students in 1995, compared to 20 percent today.

Such internships can be challenging for students with so many responsibilities. "It's tough to balance family time, class, homework and the job," noted Jodie Thompson, who is interning as a pharmacy technician and was interviewed by the Times Herald. "I didn't think I'd do it at this age. It's been a lot of work."

But businesses can benefit from older interns. Donald Grimes, a senior business research specialist at the University of Michigan, told the Times Herald that such students are more settled, and are therefore more likely to easily transition from intern to employee. In addition, their maturity, life and work experience can contribute to their work.

Compiled by Staff


"Adult Students Explore the Possibility of College," The Baxter Bulletin, June 9, 2010, Deb Peterson

"A New Kind of Intern: Nontraditional Students Seek On-The-Job Training," The Times Herald, June 13, 2010, Jason Alexander

"Non-traditional Students Increase," The Shreveport Times, June 15, 2010, Icess Fernandez

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